The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) in partnership with the Mayors Migration Council (MMC), a coalition of Mayors around the world that accelerates ambitious global action on migration to create a world where urban migrants and displaced people can thrive has organized an anti-discrimination workshop for the informal waste sector worker in Accra.
The Workshop which was held on Tuesday 31st October 2023 sought to analyse the magnitude of bias and discrimination meted out to workers in the informal waste sector, particularly migrants, challenges that undermine their work, policy directions as well as actions to reduce the discrimination to ensure a more inclusive society.
The Deputy Director for Waste Management at the AMA, Victor Kotei in a detailed presentation during the workshop highlighted the significance and contributions of informal waste workers including migrants, in improving sanitation in Accra.
He acknowledged that if not for the efforts of the informal waste workers the city would have been in chaos and engulfed in filth.
He threw more light on the processes and business opportunities in the waste sector and encouraged stakeholders to make deliberate efforts to reduce the stigma to its barest minimum.
Resilience Officer for the City of Accra and Project lead for the Green Project, Evans Asamoah Adjei said although some of the migrant informal waste workers troupe into the country using unauthorized means, they had rights and were hopeful the city would engage and integrate them since they provide essentials services that ensured cleanliness.
He said it was critical to establish a migrant desk within the administration of the AMA to understand and address issues of migration.
“Because of economic reasons, so many people migrate from so many areas to the central Business district for Greener pastures as and when they find places they can make ends meet they move and for that matter if we don’t begin to find a desk that will look at these issues then as a city, we may have a lot of challenges” he indicated.
As part of efforts to effectively and efficiently address the stigma, two stakeholder engagement meetings were held for both migrant informal waste workers and staff of the AMA to dialogue and establish recommendations to ensure inclusivity and protect the rights of informal waste workers in the discharge of their duties.
Some factors impeding the work of informal waste workers in the city identified during the stakeholder engagement include insecurity due to a lack of trust, stereotyping based on appearance, low self-esteem, cultural insensitivity and language barriers, conflicts with internal waste contractors, accommodation and security challenges, limited accessibility to health facilities.
Solutions arrived at to address the stigma include developing policies through the enforcement of the bye-law and inter-agency collaboration, detailed identification and regularisation of waste collectors, data collection exercises, Provision of intensive and continuous education on health and social issues, and education about the influx of foreign migrants in the waste value chain.
Other solutions include engaging and capacitating city staff on how to interact with waste workers, providing interpreters to address language barriers, and ensuring adequate resources, education, and enforcement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and counselling services.